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14-002 Sheriff Bob Gualtieri Orders Booking Photos Removed From “Who’s In Jail;” Says Mug Shot Websites That Mine, Post And “Sell” Photo Removals Are Extorting The Public

Who:
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office

What:
Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has announced that the Sheriff’s Office has restructured the “Who’s In Jail” page and eliminated the suspect’s booking photo from the record. The Sheriff’s decision to eliminate the photos was made due to the activities of several mug shot websites, including mugshots.com, justmugshots.com, and arrests.org, that have in recent years used the Sheriff’s Office site to mine and post photos to their website; and then charge citizens exorbitantly high fees for their removal.

“After visiting mugshots.com myself – I saw that citizens were being charged anywhere from $399 to $1700 to remove their booking photos from just that one site – I decided that it is more than a rip-off – it is extortion,” said the Sheriff.

When:
The changes to the “Who’s In Jail” page will go live on Monday, January 13, 2014.

Where:
The “Who’s in Jail” page is located on the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office website at www.pcsoweb.com.

Why/How:
Starting Monday, January 13th, 2014, online public access will be limited to the same inmate demographic information as in the past, however, there will be no photograph displayed, thereby eliminating the mug shots websites’ ability to mine the images in bulk. The Sheriff’s Office will continue to honor individual public records requests regarding booking photos.

According to the Sheriff, “A person may have to pay an exorbitant amount of money to go from site to site to remove these booking posts. A lot of these people have committed relatively minor crimes – or made a bad decision. The reposting of their booking photo isn’t illegal, but charging a fee to ‘remove it’ is unconscionable, verging on blackmail and clearly taking advantage of someone’s circumstances. So we are doing our part to take away their ammunition.”

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has allowed public access to the photographs of incarcerated subjects within the Pinellas County Jail via our “Who’s in Jail” page since 2005.

Understanding the investigative value of this site, and the needs for other law enforcement agencies to view and elicit inmate photograph; and in consideration that media entities that regularly work with the Sheriff’s Office will also continue to need access to these photographs for purposes of their news stories, -the Sheriff’s Office has established a process by which their access will be maintained through an “authorized members” log-in area.

“Authorized Members” (media entities and law enforcement agencies) may access the clean booking photographs in the following manner:

*Open the “Who’s In Jail” page.
*Click on the “Authorized Members link” tab to logon
* Click “request an account”
*Fill out the application to include first and last name, company name, contact phone # and e-mail address and click “submit.”
*You will receive an automatic e-mail, providing a password for your initial access. You may then change your password.

For further information contact the Sheriff’s Public Information Office at (727) 582-6221.

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